Nurses’ Day

Orac points out that today is National Nurses’ Day in the USA. In fact, National Nurses’ Week runs from May 6-12, and International Nurses’ Day is May 12 — Florence Nightingale’s birthday. The romantic myth largely obscures the real story when it comes to Florence Nightingale, and it’s all too easy to fall into that view of nurses and nursing: the ministering angels, all heavenly compassion and hot towels. The problem with this view is that it plays up the comforting hand on the brow at the expense of the highly trained hand clearing the intestinal blockage. Orac exhorts patients to “show how much you appreciate their caring work”. Because “caring”, see, the fluffy bunny stuff, that’s what nurses do — they hold hands and wipe arses. The real work is done by doctors, of course.
To be fair, I’m pretty sure that’s not what Orac meant. But given that this patronising view of nursing is all too common, it’s what he said. (Or, because this is something of a hot-button issue for me, it’s what I heard.)
So anyway, happy Day to any nurses reading, and my personal thanks to you and your profession for all the misery you’ve saved me from over the years.

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